Monday, April 20, 2009

My life through denominations.

I have had issues with Tradition which is why I often distrust churches that focus on Tradition more than the Bible. I grew up in various Baptist denominations but I left due to their legalism system and lack of sound doctrines. I went into Anabaptist since it is so similar to Baptist and their doctrines are more sound. The term anabaptist was used to describe and define certain Christians during the Reformation however they were not part of the Reformation (Protesting against the Catholics). These Christians regarded the Bible as their only rule for faith and life. Because of their radical beliefs, the Anabaptists were persecuted by other Protestants (i.e. Luther, Calvin and others) as well as by Roman Catholics. Anabaptists were radical due to their doctrines as Luther did with Roman Catholic Church. Many Catholics viewed Luther a radical heretic. In the early days, which is when the Anabaptists established their reputation, they often challenged the Reformers publicly as did Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church publicly.

Much of the historic Roman Catholic and Protestant literature has represented the Anabaptists as groups who preached false doctrine and led people into apostasy. persecuted the Anabaptists, resorted to torture and other types of physical abuse, in attempts both to curb the growth of the movement and bring about the salvation of the heretics (through recantation). The Protestants under Zwingli (Reformed) were the first to persecute the Anabaptists. On May 20, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael Sattler. King Ferdinand declared drowning (called the third baptism) "the best antidote to Anabaptism".

The Anabaptists, the most persecuted people of the Reformation, were not allowed the luxury of extensive written records. They were known to history for centuries mostly from the writings of their enemies, and Calvinists have been among the worst offenders in this regard.

Other offenders were,Felix Manz became the first Anabaptist martyr in 1527, ten short years after Luther had nailed up his theses. He was drowned in the river right in the middle of Zurich. Other Anabaptists were beaten or banished.

There is no single defining set of beliefs, doctrines and practices that characterizes all Anabaptists. The Anabaptist I was involved in followed reformed doctrines (Luther/Calvin). The very first Anabaptists were Continental, those who were radical and persecuted. The Anabaptist bodies of today are no longer comprised mostly of descendants of the Continental Anabaptists. The Anabaptists were early promoters of a free church and freedom of religion which includes separation of Church and State. The Anabaptists were one of several branches of "Radical" reformers (i.e. reformers that went further than the mainstream Reformers) to arise out of the Renaissance and Reformation.

So, here I am, I love the Reformers, Puritans and I love the Anabaptists as well as the Baptists. I view both theologies of the Reformers and the Anabaptists to clearly define the most comprehensive Evangelicalism today.

One of the main reasons I love the Anabaptist is because resistance is a central practice for the Anabaptist heritage of Christian witness and discipleship. Remember The Amish school shooting that happened at the West Nickel Mines School, Lancaster County, PA? One grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls was heard warning some young relatives not to hate the killer, saying, "We must not think evil of this man." Another Amish father noted, "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God."

Marie Roberts, the widow of the killer, was one of the few outsiders invited to the funeral of one of the victims. Marie Roberts wrote an open letter to her Amish neighbors thanking them for their forgiveness, grace, and mercy. She wrote, "Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Gifts you've given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you." Amish school shooting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anyway, knowing your true enemy is important and that enemy is Satan who can easily become the tool of Satan, who is called the accuser. One of his chief weapons is discouragement. My perspective from what I am reading from the Scriptures, that if we desire honor and glory from God, we must display humility first. That is contrary to our earthly philosophy, which exalts pride which is often used through works of choice.

In this life it is inevitable and it is useful because it produces the evidence of your true spiritual condition, humility and intimacy with God and allows God to put Himself on display in His grace. If we forgive those who sin against us, our heavenly Father will forgive us. But if we refuse to forgive others, our Father will not forgive our sins. We are to forgive seventy times seven. We must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. I have discovered through this forum (especially here), there is lack of forgiveness and lack of love.

Satan have successfully sowed seeds of discords between believers so that there won't be any spiritual and relationship restoration for unity. Relationship will be restored once that sinner comes to me and told me that he repented to God and he wants to restore the relationship. I don’t want to bear a grudge. If you sin against me, I have to forgive you in my heart even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven me. So, I do that willingly. But I will never be able to have a right relationship with you until you come to me and seek the forgiveness that opens up the relationship. I always forgive and always give a person an amicable, companionable, comradely, cordial, hearty, neighborly, warm, warmhearted invitation without being cold, cool, frigid; bellicose, belligerent, contentious, quarrelsome. If I am not amicable and being cold, then I am not behaving like Christ who is ALWAYS amicable and inviting.

Colossians 3:13...........Forgive one another
Colossians 3:16.......... Counsel one another
Galatians 6:2..............Bear one another's burdens
Titus 1:13.................Rebuke one another (with love)
1 Thessalonians 4:18....Comfort one another
Hebrews 10:25...........Exhort one another
Romans 14:19............Edify one another
Romans 15:14............Counsel one another
Galatians 5:13............Love one another
Ephesians 4:12...........Love one another
1 Peter 1:22..............Love one another

All men through their sinful nature have corrupted Tradition through their persecutions. All great Christian leaders are guilty in one form or another. Only Christ, His Church and Holy Scriptures are perfect.

I grew up in Duxbury, MA which is part of Plymouth Colony. I know alot about the history of Puritans. Regarding the witch trials, the Puritans themselves repented of the way the trials were conducted. Their confession was then made: "...as to the Guilt contracted, upon the opening of the late Commission of Oyer and Terminer at Salem (to which the order for this Day relates) he is, upon many accounts, more concerned that any that he knows of, Desires to take the Blame and Shame of it, Asking pardon of Men, And especially desiring prayers that God, who has an Unlimited Authority, would pardon that Sin and all other his Sins; personal and Relative: And according to his infinite Benignity, and Sovereignty, Not Visit the Sin of him, or of any other, upon himself or any of his, nor upon the Land. . . "

Governor William Phips put an end to the Salem witch trials precisely because there was the recognition that innocent people were being prosecuted without sufficient tangible evidence of their guilt. Innocent people were being incriminated based upon unsubstantiated accusation. Salem trials have brought down Puritanism in New England.

We can learn from history, including Church history that includes Tradition. Some of my favorite Quotes about "Learning from History".

"What I am great advocate of looking into the past, I could warn everybody against living in the past. The only justification for looking to the past is that we may learn great lessons from it and apply them" (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

By avoiding the mistakes of the past: "Those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana)

By repeating the victories of the past: "Those who fail to remember the past are condemned not to repeat it" (David B. Calhoun)

Reading Ecclesiastes helps alot. Hearing stories from my elders (old relatives and older Christians) reminded me that their experiences speaks the truth. As they say, "History repeats itself in every generation."

2 comments:

Merelyme said...

Hello Jim!

Just stopping by to say hello. I hope you are doing well. Happy Spring!

Norma said...

You've done a good job separating out all the backgrounds of the various groups. Something good in all. I grew up anabaptist. The early ones were very different (and just as radical as the reformers said) than the later ones.